October 26th, 2014 , Am J Sports Med

Knee moment and shear force are correlated with femoral tunnel orientation after single-bundle anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction


Increasing evidence has shown that anatomic single-bundle anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) better restores normal knee kinematics and functionality than nonanatomic ACLR. Whether anatomic reconstruction results in better knee kinetics during daily activities has not been fully investigated.


To assess the relationship between femoral tunnel angle and kinetic parameters of the knee joint during walking after single-bundle ACLR and to compare the radiographic and kinetic results of patients who underwent anatomic ACLR with those of patients who underwent nonanatomic ACLR.


Controlled laboratory study.


Twenty-one patients who underwent unilateral ACLR were recruited, and 20 healthy subjects from a previous study were used as a control group. All surgical procedures were performed by a single surgeon, 11 using the transtibial (TT) technique and 10 using the anteromedial portal (AMP) technique. Femoral tunnel orientation was measured from posterior-to-anterior radiographs. Dynamic knee joint moments and shear forces during gait were evaluated using 3-dimensional motion analysis and inverse dynamics. Relationships between femoral tunnel angles and kinetic results were evaluated via linear regression. Results were compared between 2 ACLR groups and controls using 1-way analysis of variance.


Femoral tunnel angle had significant correlations with peak external knee flexion moment and posterior shear force during early stance. The TT group had a significantly smaller (more vertical) mean femoral tunnel angle (19.4° ± 4.1°) than the AMP group (36.4° ± 5.8°). Significant reductions were found in the normalized peak external knee flexion moment (TT, 0.15 ± 0.12 Nm/kg·m; AMP, 0.25 ± 0.12 Nm/kg·m; control, 0.25 ± 0.16 Nm/kg·m) (P = .032) and posterior shear force (TT, 0.64 ± 0.55 N/kg; AMP, 1.10 ± 0.58 N/kg; control, 1.35 ± 0.55 N/kg) (P = .024) in the TT group compared with controls, but not in the AMP group. Moreover, a significantly greater medial shear force was found in the TT group during the late stance phase (TT, 1.08 ± 0.32 N/kg; AMP, 0.89 ± 0.26 N/kg; control, 0.83 ± 0.22 N/kg) (P = .038). A greater peak external knee adduction moment was found in both ACL groups during the early stance phase (TT, 0.25 ± 0.07 Nm/kg·m; AMP, 0.25 ± 0.07 Nm/kg·m; control, 0.19 ± 0.05 Nm/kg·m) (P < .01).


Knee joint kinetic changes are seen within months (~10 months) after ACLR. This study revealed significant relationships between femoral tunnel orientation and postoperative knee joint flexion moment and posterior shear force during walking. The AMP technique provides better restoration of these knee kinetic parameters compared with the TT technique at this postoperative time point.


The femoral tunnel angle measured from plain radiographs can be used as an important metric of postoperative knee joint kinetics. This information provides a better understanding of the knee joint’s biomechanical environment after ACLR using commonly used single-bundle techniques.